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Kyrsten Sinema again extends lead over Martha McSally in Senate race

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Another round of ballots were counted Saturday in the drawn-out U.S. Senate race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally and Sinema again grew her lead.

Sinema’s advantage grew from about 20,000 to almost 29,000 following several county-wide updates, including Maricopa.

At the end of Election Day, McSally held a 17,000 vote advantage, which was surpassed by Sinema after Thursday’s count and then grew to a 20,000 vote advantage for Sinema following the count on Friday.

There are now 268,000 ballots remaining in the state that have to be counted before a 5 p.m. deadline on Wednesday, set in a court settlement last Wednesday.

The deadline allows county recorders time to “cure” early ballots by matching signatures on the ballot with voter registration signatures, and to make sure that voters did not submit an early ballot and a ballot on election night.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said his office will continue counting through the weekend, on Veterans Day and into next week, until all votes are counted, and making daily reports at 5 p.m.

He said the county’s equipment can process only around 75,000 ballots a day.

If the margin of victory by either candidate is less than one-tenth of one percent, the race will head to a run-off between the two candidates.

There are three nationwide Senate seats that are yet to be determined with Republicans holding a 51-46 advantage in the legislative chamber.

McSally remains confident in the remaining votes. Her campaign released a statement on Saturday addressing the race.

Today our vote total grew at a greater rate than expected, and we expanded our vote margins in rural areas counting mail-in ballots dropped off on election day. The latest release provides compelling evidence that the remaining uncounted ballots are favorable to Martha. And we will continue our effort to make sure all lawful ballots are counted.

Sinema’s campaign also released a statement on the race on Saturday:

Make no mistake: this was an incredibly disappointing day for Martha McSally. Her meager gains in the rural counties were totally wiped out by Kyrsten’s continued strong performance in Maricopa County and across the state. Here’s where things stand: McSally gained 47,837 votes and Kyrsten gained 57,466 votes to grow her lead to 29,832 votes or 1.41 percent. McSally can hope for a miracle tomorrow night but the data show it won’t happen.

The race between Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy is headed for a runoff in Mississippi, since neither candidate reached a 50 percent majority of votes.

In Florida, the race between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Bill Nelson is headed for a recount since the margin of victory was less than one-half of one percent.

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